Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Modern Day 70's Time Capsules

I've been on a 70's movie kick lately. But not just any 70's movies, but recent movies that take place in the 70's! Since I am a big fan of a lot of the 70's design in furniture, appliances and misc. pop culture, I view the 70's as a fun time to be alive. So, needless to say, I enjoy it when a movie can capture a period like the 70's in a time capsule. Below I've listed my top 7, most recent favorites. All are under $20 and some are even as low as $5! Have a nice day!

Spirit of '76. 1990
This has been one of my favorite 70's era movies, since I saw it late one night on cable TV. The story revolves around a trio of space travelers from the future set their time machine to go back to 1776 in order to retrieve a copy of The Constitution, to solve the future's problems. But, due to a glitch, they travel back in time to 1976, during our bicentennial. A camp classic, only for those who have a high tolerance for cheesy, retro fun. The cast includes: DEVO, David Cassidy, Leif Garret, Moon Unit Zappa (I LOVE her... and her hottie brother Ahmet...ROWR!) and Julie Brown. If you're feeling blue and/or nostalgic, then this is just what the doctor ordered!

Detroit Rock City. 1999
I LOVE this movie. From the opening credits to the choice in casting, this movie was a total blast from the past for me. The story revolves around a group of friends trying to get to a KISS concert in Detroit. You don't have to be a KISS fan, but it helps. The movie has a great soundtrack, plenty of laughs and lots-o-70's pop culture. There's even a cameo by singer/actor/artist Nick Scotti, who has his own nerve-racking reality show on the Style Channel, called New York Nick. I may be one of the only people who bought his 1993 self-titled album, but what can I say, he has a great singing voice. He also has an awesome face and bod (which he knows all too well). As for considering himself a "painter," I dunno about that...

The Ice Storm. 1997
Another stellar movie, with a great cast. This movie has so many good people in it, and the performances are great: Sigourney Weaver, Elijah Wood, Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire & Joan Allen. The story revolves around 2 dysfunctional Connecticut families in1973. The film was directed by Ang Lee, who also directed two other film favorites of mine: Eat Drink Man Woman and The Wedding Banquet.

Scotland, Pa. 2001
I recently fell in love with this movie when I saw it on the Independent Film Channel. I can't say that I am a huge Shakespeare fan, but I do like it when his timeless stories/plots are turned into good films. I enjoyed the 1990's version of Hamlet, starring Mel Gibson and Glenn Close (even though I am not fan of Mel Gibson the person) and even 1996's Romeo & Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio & Claire Danes. Well, Scotland, Pa. is a 70's twist on Macbeth starring James LeGros, Christopher Walken, Kevin Corrigan and Andy Dick. The majority of the film takes place around a fast food empire called McBeths (think McDonald's). The original proprietor's name is Duncan (think Duncan Donuts). If you're familiar with the basic premise, you'll totally get a kick out of how the director incorporated the premise to fit the 70's world of fast food. Lots of fun, and Walken gives another great performance.

Dazed and Confused. 1993
I think of it as the Fast Times at Ridgemont High of the 90's, since it had SO many "before they were stars" in it: Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Rory Cochrane, Matthew McConaughey, just to name a few. The story takes place on the last day of school in 1976. This is the real 70's stuff, not the brightly colored pop culture eyecandy so many people associate with the 70's. Nobody here is tryin' to look pretty. Fun movie!

Now and Then. 1995
I just saw this film on the STARZ! WAM! channel and had forgotten how much I enjoyed the camaraderie of the 4 main girls, played by Thora Birch, Gaby Hoffman, Christina Ricci and Ashleigh Aston Moore. Think of it as a girl's version of Stand By Me, sans the dead body... well, sorta. I really enjoyed the film up until the ending scenes of glorious childbirth, followed by deep thoughts by the adult version of the girls (played by Melanie Griffith, Demi Moore, Rosie O'Donnell and Rita Wilson), who come together briefly at the beginning and the end of the film to help their friend Chrissy through childbirth. I'd have been more content with the film had it left the "big" stars out of the loop and stuck to their much more interesting youthful counterparts. Still, the film is big on fun, humor, adventures and a great soundtrack. Besides, three of my favorite actors/actresses have cameos: Janeane Garofalo, Brendan Fraser and Bonnie Hunt. Fun popcorn movie!

*Honorable Mention
Good Fences. 2003
And last, but not least, I must give an honorable mention to the made-for-Showtime movie Good Fences. Why an "honorable mention" you may ask. Well, because it was much more of a downer than I had expected. Not a bad movie, just not the comedy it was disguised as. The movie stars one of my favorite people, Whoopi Goldberg. Danny Glover plays her not-so-stable husband. The story revolves around an upwardly mobile black family who move into the posh enclave of Greenwich, Connecticut. The film's cover art and tagline make the film appear to be much more lighthearted than it actually is. In actuality, the film is much more of a drama, dealing with black vs. white issues, racial inequality, losing your sense of self, etc. Still, I enjoyed the film on a lot of other levels. I thought the 70's sets/props were dead on, as well as Whoopi's portrayal of a down-to-earth woman just trying to stay grounded in a predominantly white community. There are some laughs and twists along the way to keep the viewer's attention.

Monday, August 30, 2004


This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to be able to go see one of my all-time favorite classic films on the big screen: Fritz Lang's 'M'. The Inwood Theater in Dallas offered this cinematic favorite at this weekend's midnight movie. For those not familiar with the movie, it's a crime-thriller that takes place in a German city in the 1930's. A quick synopsis, courtesy of IMDB.com: "A psychotic child murderer stalks a city, and despite an exhaustive investigation fueled by public hysteria and outcry, the police have been unable to find him. But the police crackdown does have one side-affect, it makes it nearly impossible for the organized criminal underground to operate. So they decide that the only way to get the police off their backs is to catch the murderer themselves."

The midnight movies are normally shown in the downstairs theater, which is the largest screen in the 57-year old theater. However, since the "classic" midnight movies don't always have the fan base of the more pop-culturesque-type midnight movies (i.e. The Goonies, Fight Club, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, etc.), they opted to show M in one of the 2 smaller upstairs theaters. The really cool thing about seeing it upstairs, aside from the 'more intimate' factor, is that the Inwood Theater is one of the few remaining theaters around that still has an actual silver screen! That's right, silver screen isn't just a term, it actually exists. Early films (esp. B&W) were originally shown on silver screens because the contrast was better. They're pretty much a thing of the past, but I got to see M on one! How cool is THAT?!!

The film is in German with English subtitles and stars Peter Lorre. I love how the film opens, which sets a dark, foreboding mood, while at the same time having humor. The movie opens with a little girl in the center of a circle of playmates, reciting a sort of "My mother told me to pick the very best one and you... are... not... it..."-type rhyme. However, this rhyme is much more sinister: "Just you wait a little while, The nasty man in black will come. With his little chopper, He will chop you up!" The little girl in the center of the circle would recite this and whomever she was pointing at when she got to the word "up", would be "out." Think of a creepier version of Duck, Duck, Goose. The fact that there is a killer on the loose, killing children, in a way that is so "horrible" that no one in the film will even discuss the state in which the children are found, makes it that much more eerie.

I own the DVD, so I have seen the film before, however I was surprised to see how much of it had some relevance even today. For a film that was made over 70 years ago, it was interesting to see that things like psychological profiling and the insanity plea, were already around. The way that we refer to them today, you'd think we invented them. Au contraire, mon frere! I don't speak any German, so my French will have to do. Heh. If you are a fan of classic movies and not one of those people who associate subtitles with hard labor, then you will enjoy the film. It will keep you entertained until the very end. I may be alone on this, but I find Peter Lorre attractive in some of his earlier films. I know as he got older he took on the look of a cross between Marty Feldman and a Pug, but if you check him out in certain scenes from his earlier films like M (The mirror scene), Mad Love (one of my all-time FAVORITE films) and Secret Agent (love the mustache look), you might see what I mean.

Since Peter Lorre is one of my favorite actors, I'm going to suggest some other favorites which star and/or costar Peter Lorre. As far I know, all are available on DVD, with the exceptions of Mad Love, The Beast With Five Fingers, The Boogie Man Will Get You and You'll Find Out. I have provided hyperlinks (just click on the title) for each title, providing places where you might be able to purchase them. The DVDs are generally pretty inexpensive, with the exception of M, which is a Criterion title. Mad Love and The Beast With Five Fingers can still be purchased on VHS and The Boogie Man Will Get You and "You'll Find Out are hard ones to find. You might try an online auction site. In addition to the hyperlinks below, you might want to try one of my all-time favorite places to buy DVDs: Alpha Video. Don't be deceived by the title. Alpha carries VHS, DVD, CD and even vinyl! They specialize in "Oldies But Goodies." Their ongoing special is: DVD: $5.95 each or 5 for $25 & VHS: $2.95 each or 10 for $20. You can't beat that!

M. 1931. DVD/VHS
The Man Who Knew Too Much. 1934. DVD/VHS
Mad Love. 1935. VHS
Secret Agent. 1936. DVD/VHS
Mr. Moto's Last Warning. 1939. DVD/VHS. *This is just one in a series of 8 Mr. Moto films
You'll Find Out. 1940. OOP
The Invisible Agent. 1942. DVD/VHS. *Release date Oct. 19
The Boogie Man Will Get You. 1942. OOP
The Beast With Five Fingers. 1946. VHS
Quicksand. 1950. DVD/VHS

Friday, August 27, 2004

Mental Goulash III

"Pet grooming at a parlor in southwestern China, includes a haircut and coloring, which start at 300 vuan (about $36 for small dogs)." I found this unusual photo on AOL News and HAD to report it here, for my blogger readers. I am NOT a poodle fan, but I'd take one of these day-glo fluffy sno-cones! Too cool! I'm assuming they use some sort of vegetable dye. It kinda reminds me of the late 70's fad of flocking Christmas trees in different colors. I still think the pink flocked Christmas trees looked pretty cool. I also remember, around Easter-time, when people would be selling/giving dyed baby chicks. They were too cute! I think maybe some people still do this, but I thought I remembered reading something about the dye killing the cute lil nuggets. I dunno. I could be wrong. I still think the poodles are rainbow-riffic!

If you're anything like me, then you love Cheri Oteri. I hated it the day she left Saturday Night Live. She was one of my all-time favorite SNL cast members (Gilda Radner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Ellen Cleghorne, Phil Hartman, etc.) If your familiar with her characters, my all-time favorite character (shown) was Collette Reardon, the hypochondriac, "prescription" drug addict. I love her! She always was all fucked up and disheveled-looking (missed button holes, uneven makeup, mismatched earrings, etc.). Saturday Night Live will be having a Best of Cheri Oteri show on Saturday, September 4th, during their regular time-slot. So, be sure and check it out. Here's hoping there is a Best Of... DVD in the works!

While at Best Buy, earlier this week, doing some DVD shoppin', I saw this cute guy. I'd guesstimate he was maybe early 40's. He had salt-n-pepper hair and glasses (ROWR!). He was wearing shorts, so being the calves-fiend that I am, I checked out his calves (which were mighty nice, I must admit...Rowr!). That's when the whole picture came together for me. I thought something was "off" about him, but I initially couldn't put my finger on what it was exactly... until I saw the calves. He was orange! I walked by and got a closer look (he was looking for a CD title), and that's when it really hit home. His face, neck, arms, legs, they were all orange. Bad, bad, bad. And he's such a cutie, too, dammit! Why would you fuck up an otherwise cute overall package by applying a tanning product that makes you look like a Circus Peanut with glasses? Vanity thy name is QT. What a cryin' shame.

Remember ant farms? I never had one as a child, but always wanted one. However, having the typical mom, I was never allowed to have an ant farm, since there was always the possibility of me dropping it and therefore bringing the world to a premature end. Come to think of it, there were a lot of things I wasn't trusted with. I think that's why I like burning candles so much now. And I haven't even burned down my house yet! Sigh. Moms. Anyway, back to the issue at hand. I guess it's another case of "everything old is new again," 'cause I just discovered this awesome new ant farm online! This new-age ant farm has a unique twist, though. Here's a synopsis of the "Antquarium," courtesy of the good folks at I Want One Of Those.com: " The Antquarium was developed by NASA scientists to allow astronauts to observe wildlife in space, and has been into orbit on the NASA Space Shuttle. The clear Perspex Antquarium contains a unique, non toxic transparent gel with special properties that allowed it to withstand the immense g-forces experienced during shuttle take-off.

The gel also forms an ideal habitat for ants, and provides all the nutrition ants need to survive for their average life expectancy of six months. Once the ants are inside, they burrow their way through the gel to create fascinating and totally unique patterns. Use the wooden stick provided to make four channels around 2 – 3cm long in the gel. Then use your multifunction stick to catch your ants (or entice them into another suitable container), insert them into the Antquarium and close the lid. Using your channels as a starting point, the little creepies will begin making their tunnels for your amusement and delight.

How cool is THAT?! As God is my witness, I WILL make it mine... eventually. I will definitely be sending off for the ants, though. For two reasons: 1) I don't want to encourage the carpenter ants that are already around here and 2) I read the reviews of this product and it seems like the ants you send off for are prone to be more active. Plus, they are black! And black is always a cooler color than red. Oh! And if ants aren't your bag, then check out the "Plantquarium." It's the same basic premise, but it deals with growing plants (of course, I want one of these, too). Kinda like the terrariums in a bottle that were so popular in the late 70's. I remember we had one in an old glass (back when things still came in glass, like soft drinks and pancake syrup) water cooler bottle. Now my parents keep change in it.

And while we're on the topic of plants, BoysStuff also offers a hip, new product called the Flycatcher Mark II. Here's the synopsis: " Introducing the mechanical Venus Fly Trap. Using chemical free bait, the Flycatcher Mark II gets rid of flies, wasps and mosquitoes safely and quickly. Hot summer days mean barbecues, outdoor parties… and flies. So how do you get rid of the little buggers? With this top little gizmo, that's how. Place the bait inside the Flycatcher's mouth, turn it on, and watch as it attracts all the insects. Of course, the poor deluded insects don't know that the mouth contains sensors that detect their presence. Then, as they walk in looking for the bait, BAM! Down come the catcher's jaws, swatting the fly dead. No fuss, no muss. (Well, possibly a bit of muss, but you get a free brush to clean that out with.)

The original Flycatcher was a greedy little bugger who'd let rip an almighty burp after stuffing himself on fly pie. The new model still burps, but if you're the refined type who believes in table manners, there's an option to turn the burping off.

From the fun, to the idiotic. Apparently this news story happened back in April, but it was just featured on the local news here. You may have heard about the billboard worker in North Carolina who owed a debt, allowed his creditor to cover six billboard signs with a biblical passage condemning homosexuality. Personally, the sign amuses me more than it pisses me off. I love the fact that someone honestly believes that they are able to interspersedly go back and forth between homosexuality and heterosexuality. I think the technical term is "closet case," or "sex addict." *See also [de·ni·al]. Personally, I've known I was gay ever since I was in 3rd grade. You just are or you're aren't. Accept it (or in this case, don't) and get on with your life. I can't stand people straight or gay who limit themselves with labels and/or perceptions. There's just no excuse for it. "Jesus Christ changes lives." That's possible, but as we can see, it's not always for the better. I think too many self-proclaimed "Christians" wield/interpret The Bible and it's passages to their own agenda, which I view as being just as blasphemous as their accusations. We haven't come a long way, baby. I hope they're using condoms.

Waynetta Nolan of Houston, Texas can't get no satisfaction. However, she can get 10 years in prison. Way to represent, Wayway! News story, courtesy of Reuters: "A Texas woman was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to 10 years in jail for running over the manager of a McDonald's with her car because she wanted mayonnaise on her cheeseburger.

Waynetta Nolan, 37, showed no emotion Thursday as the sentence was read in court following a trial in which the McDonald's manager, Sherry Jenkins, said she gave Nolan the mayonnaise she requested, but she flew into a rage anyway. "I gave her everything she asked for -- mayonnaise, no mustard, onions, everything I could possibly do for this lady. Mayo, mayo, mayo, and it's still not good enough," Jenkins told reporters outside the courtroom.

Nolan, who was convicted of aggravated assault for the April 23 incident, became so angry when a McDonald's employee told her she could not get mayonnaise that she threw her cheeseburger into the drive-through the window, witnesses said.

Jenkins tried to placate her by offering a cheeseburger with mayonnaise, but Nolan continued to make demands until Jenkins finally called police. When she went outside to write down Nolan's license plate number, Nolan ran her over, breaking her pelvis.

Nolan testified that she was putting ketchup on her cheeseburger when she accidentally struck Jenkins.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

WTF Moments

* This week's WTF Moment is doing double duty as both What The Fuck and What's That Fragrance? Okay, so technically, this is last week's WTF Moments, but I just now got around to writing about them. Enjoy!

I bought these new Jimmy Dean breakfast croissant sandwiches that you put in the microwave. They were on sale, and I thought "what the hell." So, one night I decide I am gonna make one for dinner. The package says to put it in the microwave and cook for 55 seconds. I take one out of the package, wrap it in a papertowel, as directed, and go to finish up some work in the computer room. Four-five minutes later, I smell burning. Being the neurotic that I am, my first thought is "oh my god, I'm smelling things that aren't there. I'm schizophrenic!" Then I think "Wow, I'm typing so fast, I smell smoke!" Then the smoke alarm goes off and I know I'm not crazy...yet. So I get to the living room and there is a hazy smoke lingering near the ceiling and the kitchen is filled with smoke. I haul ass to the kitchen and turn off the microwave, open the door and a cloud of smoke escapes from within. Professor Kirk punched in 55 MINUTES, instead of seconds! Derr! I can barely breath, so I run away to get a breath of air in another room, but before I do, I hit the fan on the vent over the oven. I then come back, with a towel covering my mouth, so I can open the window in the kitchen and the den: Envision the community theater version of The Towering Inferno Meets Not Without My Daughter. I get the windows open and turn on every fan in the house. A week later, I still can't get the burnt popcorn-smell out of the microwave! I've burned candles, sprayed odor neutralizers, cleaned the microwave, nothing seems to be working. I'm currently looking for remedies, from vinegar to baking soda. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. The smell is driving me nuts!

It's raining Thursday when I go to the UPS place to ship a package. What luck! There are three consecutive parking spaces right in front of the store! I'm glad, because the item I'm shipping is in a 5 ft. box. I go inside, get things taken care of, and as I'm leaving, there is a guy coming in that has his hands full with a large box. I hold the door open for him, so he can come in. He thanks me, and I say "you're welcome." As I leave, I notice there is some chick off to the right of the door, under the awning shaking out her umbrella. As I go to get in my car, I notice that the motherfucker on the left of me, parked too goddamn close, so I have to maneuver my way around their side mirror on their passenger side and my side mirror on the driver's side. As I'm inching through the small space their wonderful parking skills have allotted me, I bend their mirror forward and get grime on my new white shirt! I say "oops" ('cause the bitch with the umbrella is still right there, watching me like a goddamn hawk) and bend their side mirror back where it was (it's one of those new SUV's with the accordian-style bendy mirrors), and try to open my door wide enough to inch inside my fuckin' truck. In the process, I accidentally hit their car and think "Fuck it. Yeah, keep lookin' bitch, don't park so goddamn close next time!" I look over at her, to see if she's still observing and she quickly looks down and gets really interested in her umbrella. I hate fuckin' stupid people.

On the lighter and more fragrant side of life, there are some new products out there that I want to talk about. I'll readily admit I am somewhat of a cleaning product/new product groupie. I love packaging and sometimes the packaging design gets the best of me. I remember when Swiffer first came out, I thought it was the best thing ever! I still love it. Viva la Swiffer!

Well, Febreze has 2 new products out. One is called the Scentstories Player. Here's a synopsis courtesy of the Febreze site: "The Scentstories player and disc themes work much like an audio CD player. Just insert one of the themed discs and push play. The player then circulates the five scents on each disc, one by one, with a new scent every 30 minutes. Together, the Scentstories player and disc create a new-to-the-world scent experience."

The player may offer a new to the world scent, but I wasn't born yesterday. The player costs $35, which I think is too steep, but it's new, so maybe the price will go down. And the discs are $6 each. The discs currently come in five "Scentstories": • Exploring A Mountain Trail (and being mauled by a bear), • Walking Barefoot On The Shore (watch out for broken bottles!), • Strolling Through The Garden (and stepping in dog crap), • Relaxing In The Hammock (and getting sunburned) and my least favorite • Shades of Vanilla (God, how I detest the smell of vanilla! Blech!), which is the only disc that ironically has a black woman on it. Go figure. I saw the discs and player at the store recently and the discs have a scratch-n-sniff sticker on em' (such a great idea, btw), and I think I'd like the Barefoot On The Shore disc best and then Exploring A Mountain Trail as second choice. I totally want one of these things, but I'll wait until the price drops.

Another new Febreze product that I did buy was Febreze Air Effects. I chose the citrus-scent. It smells so damn GOOD, I wanna drink it, but I learned my lesson when I tried tasting some strawberry shampoo once...um, 2 years ago. Ahem. Anyway, the melon also smelled really good, but I opted for the citrus. I love the shape of the can, which my friend Derik complains is just more fodder for the landfill and destroys our fragile planet. I say pphhllt! I'll be gone long before the ozone layer looks like a doily. Besides, the can is made from aluminum and is totally recyclable, if you're into that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Bargain Books

Hooray for bargain books! Here's all the cool books I found while diggin' around at the Half Price Books in Dallas. The majority of them were under $10, most, $5 or less. A lot of them can be found relatively cheaply at Half.com or eBay. The only one not shown above, is Unforgettable Hollywood, simply because the book cover is metallic silver and was way too reflective to scan/photograph.

Belarski: Pulp Art Masters. By John P. Gunnison. © 2003. Soft cover

If you are a fan of the kitschy, pulp covers of any of the pulp magazines of the 20's-50's, like Thrilling Mystery, Popular Detective or Argosy, then you will absolutely love this book. Filled from beginning to end with hundreds of covers, all in brilliantly garish color!

Funny Face! An Amusing History of Potato Heads, Block Heads, and Magic Whiskers. By mark Rich & Jeff Potocsnak. © 2002. Soft cover

Since I collect kitsch books, this one definitely fit the bill. Filled from beginning to end with full color images of vintage toys and their packages. My favorites? Pete The Pepper, Frenchy Fry and Frankie Frank!

Hollywood in the 1940's: The Stars' Own Stories. By Ivy Crane Wilson & Liz Smith. © 1980. Hard cover. OOP

Filled with SO many great B&W images of everyone from Joe DiMaggio to Tyrone Power. Some of the best photos I have seen in a LONG time. I've never seen any of them before, and that's saying something. A real treasure.

The Happy Cooker. By Monique Van Vooren. © 1978. Soft cover. OOP

If you have seen Flesh For Frankenstein or Sugar Cookies, then you recognize Monique Van Vooren. This surprisingly good little cookbook, made a welcome addition to my odd little collection. Plenty of B&W photos of Monique and various celebs: Andy Warhol, David Bowie, etc.

How To Lose Friends and Alienate People. By Toby Young. © 2003. Soft cover

I had to buy this book, if for nothing more than the title alone. It belongs on my bookshelf. Besides, it contains some bitter insight into the world of New York journalism. Fun!

Unforgettable Hollywood. By Nat Dallinger. © 1982. Hard Cover. OOP

You'd be surprised how inexpensive so many great, out of print (OOP) books on Hollywood are! This one is filled some beautiful photographs that you don't see just anywhere. Really great stuff! A must-have for the fan of classic Hollywood!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Vinyl Memories

So, during my stay with Derik, we went to Half Price Books, Virgin Megastore an awesome, independently owned CD store and had lunch at a Dallas landmark: Barbec's. I'd never been to the place before, but apparently it's been around for a loooong time and is a Dallas staple. It's the kind of place I feel comfortable in. Not foo foo trendy, with faux-fabulous people. Just quaint, homey and comfortable. Leave your Dallas pretensions at the door. My kinda place! I had my favorite, the club sandwich (sans tomato) and iced tea. It was perfect, the company was great and the service was excellent. Who could ask for more? I highly recommend it.

Now, onto my purchases at Half Price Books. I'm one of those people who can easily spend hours in a used bookstore. Especially, one the size of the Half Price Books off of in Dallas! It's humongous. I spent most of my time, sitting in the floor, sifting through hundreds of 45 RPM record/singles. No one ever takes the time to do this, and since they don't more retro goodies for me! I, for one, miss records. Don't get me wrong. I love the technology of CDs, but there's just something about a record that a CD lacks. Records have a soul, if you will. I remember my first record player. It was one of those kind that had a hinged lid, and you can close it like a suit case and latch it. It was orange and had a picture of Fonzi on the front giving the double thumbs up. The inside cover had a scene from Arnold's, neon glowing. It was the coolest record player ever! I still wish I had it today. Oh, while I'm on the topic of Fonzi, I watched Pulp Fiction again last night. I totally forgot how cool that movie is. My favorite quote was towards the end, when Samuel L. Jackson's character is negotiating with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny at the restaurant: "Now Yolanda, we're not gonna do anything stupid are we? We're all gonna be like three little Fonzies here, and what's Fonzi like?" [when Yolanda doesn't answer] "C'MON YOLANDA, WHAT'S FONZI LIKE?!" Yolanda- "cool." Samuel- "What?!" Yolanda- "Coool." Samuel- "Correctomundo. And that's what we're gonna be. We're gonna be. Cool."

Records. I love em'. I still buy them from time to time, depending on what it is. Sometimes I buy them for the cover, or just because I love the album. Either way, I still enjoy using my record player. I especially enjoy it in the Fall, when it's kinda chilly outside. I'll open the window to the den, put on a Duke Ellington record and just sit there and listen to it. The crackling and the popping of the record only give it more charm.

I have all kinds of records in my collection: cartoon-related records, movie soundtracks, Jazz, comedy, Bossa Nova and those fun, retro lounge-style records, likeRay Conniff used to make. I found an album cover I just couldn't pass up (actually, Derik found it). What a great cover.

I found some great stuff: The Andy Gibb record was just too Tiger Beat Magazine for me to pass up. One of my all-time favorite movies is Meatballs, AND I think David Naughton is a total fox (or should I say, "wolf"), so I couldn't pass up the 45 for Makin' It. And to top it off, it still had the little yellow plastic thingy in the center. *squeal!* The RSO records logo, so takes me back to a time of Peach's Records & Tapes, Paper Moon Graphics greeting cards, Burger Time for IntelliVision and browsing through singles on 45. Sigh. Oh, and I had to get the Corey Hart 45, 'cause the record sleeve opens up into a poster! Boss! I was SUCH a huge Corey Hart fan. He was so damn hot. I highly recommend purchasing his music video compilation DVD. ROWR!

I collect some children's books, some which include, Frances, Old Black Witch and Gus The Ghost. Well, in that vein, I found some great children's 45 records. Both are from two of my favorite childhood book series: Frances and Old Black Witch, both of which I highly recommend. I used to belong to the I CAN READ Book Club when I was growing up. God, I LOVED it so much! I think that's where I get my fondness for reading & writing and receiving/sending mail.

Well, A Bargain For Frances was the first time I was introduced to Frances, so I'll start with the Frances series first: Frances is a badger, and she has a little sister named Gloria. Frances gets into all kinds of mischief, but always ends up learning her lesson. Sometimes, the hard way. The books have terrific illustrations by Lillian Hoban and are written by Russell Hoban. There are a half dozen or more Frances books in the series. Well, I found Bread and Jam for Frances on a 45! Needless to say, I was very excited.

As for the Old Black Witch series, my favorite is the first in the series, simply called Old Black Witch! Here's a synopsis, courtesy of Amazon.com, for the first book in the series: When Nicky and his mother buy an old New England house to transform into a tearoom, they discover that the house is already inhabited--by a spooky and mischievous ghost, Old Black Witch. The series is written and illustrated by the husband and wife team of Harry and Wende Devlin. I love the illustrations, and the stories are so fun.

As far as I know, there are 3 books in this series: Old Black Witch, Old Black Witch and The Polka-Dot Ribbon and Old Black Witch Rescues Halloween. Well, I found the last title on 45, as well! I am saving it to listen to, this Fall. Also, if you like the Old Black Witch books, you might want to check out The Devlin's Cranberry series, it's just as great! I read mine every Halloween and Thanksgiving. They never seem to age.

*Tomorrow: See what books I found!

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Magic Time Machine

After my eye exam, Derik and I stopped by Half Price Books (one of my favorite places to buy books, movies and music) and then went to eat at a restaurant called The Magic Time Machine. Derik had been wanting to go there ever since he heard about it, but none of his uptight friends would be caught dead there. Barnacle Boy to the rescue! (that's me) I had been there once, AGES ago.

Back in junior high (I think), my friend Tiffany had her birthday party there and I was invited. Tiffany's parents had money to burn, so the sky was usually the limit when it came to what Tiffany wanted. And Tiffany wanted a birthday party at The Magic Time Machine. I'd never been there before and, like everyone else, thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. You have to realize we lived in a small hick town in Texas (redundant?), so going all the way to Dallas, made it even cooler.

The restaurant is kind of hard to explain (it's kinda one of those "You have to be there" kinda places), but I'll try. Inside the cavernous restaurant there are various themed settings in which to eat. For example, you can eat inside a giant box of crayons, a trolley car, a teepee, a giant lunchbox, etc. The waiters/waitresses are dressed as various characters: Charlie Brown, Batman, Raggedy Ann, Frankenstein, etc. At Tiffany's party, we got seated inside a giant pumpkin and our waiter was Charlie Brown and our waitress was Lady Godiva! The salad bar is housed in the shell of a Model T and the phone booth was the actual front half of a school bus! Upstairs there was an arcade (I definitely remember playing Ms. Pac-Man) and a disco!

So, Derik and I get there around 6:30 or so. Once I see the front entrance, it all starts coming back to me. There was a life-size cutout of Superman, or rather the guy at this particular restaurant who portrays Superman and he is H-O-T. Naturally, it's his night off, so we get our choice of Alice in Wonderland, Joe Dirt or Bat Girl. Derik isn't familiar with Joe Dirt, so I say "Let's get Alice in Wonderland!" We get seated at the Casablanca table, giant fringed lamp over the table et al. We're both getting a total kick out of looking around the place, not to mention trying to see all the waitstaff, to see who's who. Soon "Alice" comes over and she looks just like Alice in Wonderland, British accent and all. However, she's speaking in a high-pitched, elfish-type voice, which kinda makes me uncomfortable (for her). She is totally perky, completely into her character and doesn't crack up once, while delivering her spiel of the specials and drinks. My first thought is: "I could ever work here in a million years. I could never be that fuckin' perky and/or keep a straight face." She did a great job and was really nice.

After taking our drink orders, Alice disappears, only to walk by in a few minutes to ask if we would like some napkins, and we say "yes" and she tosses a handful of napkins in our faces, before giggling and scurrying away like a ferret on acid. We just looked at each other and though "Fun!" She also comes back from time to time to tell us a joke, a story or to just scare the hell out of us, by popping a balloon behind our head and/or letting go of a half-filled balloon, so that it swirls around our heads before landing on the table. Poor Derik. He got the brunt of most of it, since his back was to the preparation area, where Alice lurked 9X outta 10. On the plus side, I could drool over Hercules, while he refilled drinks or picked up orders. He was pretty hunky, but methinks the dim lighting worked in his favor, facially.

Oh! And don't even think about asking where the bathroom is. 'Cause if you do, your waiter/waitress makes you get up, and you must march behind them throughout the restaurant, while they say in a very loud voice "I MUST!" and you have to say in a similarly loud voice "WEE WEE!" Thank god, I went to the bathroom while the coast was clear. Oh! And some couple and their little girl came in and got seated off to the right of me. Derik had a bird's eye view, so he saw more than I did, but apparently the "fabulous" mom just had to make a cell phone call from the table and before her conversation could even really get started, Alice swoops out of nowhere and pulls her seat (all the seats are on wheels) a looong distance from the table, while exclaiming "Wheeeeee!" and scuttling away. The woman was both startled and pissed. She just sat there at first with her mouth open, looking like "What the fuck?" It was hilarious! She rolled herself back to the table, then got up to finish her call elsewhere. It was great! What kind of asshole talks on the phone at the table anyway? Ech.

I ordered the Poison Apple (an apple martini) and I forget the name of what Derik ordered. Whatever it was, it had rum in it, was blue and it smoked. I had the fried shrimp, Derik ordered the salmon (I think) and we shared an appetizer of cheese sticks, and we both had the salad bar. Everything was delicious. When it came time for the check, Alice dropped it off, but not before she hurled a handful of Dum Dum suckers on our table. I got root beer and grape! Afterwards, we walked around, checking out all the places you could eat. Sadly, the pumpkin was gone, but the majority of the place still looked the same. We even ventured upstairs to the arcade/discoteque, and wow, it really took me back. They were both just as I had remembered them. Even Ms. Pac-Man was still there! It was great! The best time I have had in a long time.

I went to their website, and all the waiters/waitresses they show on the site must be from the San Antonio one, because I don't recognize any of the people. So, if you happen to find yourself in the Dallas area, be sure and check out The Magic Time Machine, you'll never forget it.

*Tomorrow, see what I picked up at Half Price Books!

Friday, August 20, 2004

My Eye Exam

A few weeks ago I had an appointment to see my eye doctor in Dallas. My friend Derik was nice enough to take me to my appointment and offer for me to spend the night at his house. Hooray! (I don't get out much) Some eye history: Back in 1979, I was in second grade. During recess one day I got hit (accidentally) in my right eye with a dirt clod (hooray for Texas!). Once the school nurse noticed that all the white had drained from my eye, leaving me with a creepy, bloody sphere, she realized this was pretty serious and called my parents. Long story short, I had to have eye surgery (in order to avoid eventually going blind in that eye), where the doctor placed what is called a scleral buckle in my eye. The procedure was successful on many levels. The main level being, I could see out of my eye. The bonus level being it excluded me from taking P.E. class through high school. Hooray! And I thought the teasing was bad OUTSIDE of P.E. class. I could have had my own Sissy Spacek moment (being pelted with jockstraps in lieu of tampons) in the locker room. Thanks retinal surgery! You're swell!

My eye appointment was for 1:30. Once I got to the eye doctor, I got to fill out the medical history equivalent of the W-2 Long Form, attached to a clipboard, since it had been 3-5 years since I'd been there last (according to them...I'm taking their word for it). Come to think of it, it may have been as long as five years since my last visit. I notice the giant fish aquarium that was in the waiting room in now gone. Phooey! I love it when waiting rooms have aquariums. :( Derik leaves to run errands, with the understanding that I will call him once my eye exam is over. Meanwhile, I've finished filling out my life story and handed it back to the receptionist.

Over the duration of my THREE HOUR! wait, I overheard:

• Some 60-something snooty "power lunch"-type woman who answered her cell phone, asking her son "What's up, babe?" I couldn't help picturing her telling herself "It worked for Cher! She's pushin' 60 and still looks great!" Her conversation was so fabulous that she eventually took her cell phone and 80's power suit ensemble to the bathroom with her. Nice.

• 1 old lady complain and question everything from whether or not Dublin, Texas was really the oldest Dr. Pepper bottling plant in the world to how her maintenance man tried (unsuccessfully) to teach her how to scroll down a text window on her computer.

• And my favorite: 1 old woman who had exhausted her son with questions of why it was taking so long for her to see the doctor. Uh, welcome to the 20th century, Nanna. Look around, there are 25 other patients doing the exact same thing. Take a Xanax and chill the fuck out. Luby's doesn't close until 9. I swear, this woman kept repeating the same questions over and over and OVER. She just wouldn't let up. Completely baffled. Now I know why Norman Bates killed his mother.

I finally get called in, get my eyes dilated and then get to sit in the waiting room for ANOTHER hour and then finally get to see the doctor and get my eye exam. He raves about how well my eyes are doing (Right eye: 20/25. Left eye: 20/20). Yaye me! He gives me some nonprescription eye drops to use, since I've been experiencing some discomfort because I use the computer for prolonged periods of time. I ask him for a recommendation for a place to get glasses (since he doesn't "do" prescriptions) and he says he'll look into it and have his secretary send me some information.

It's now roughly 4:30, and I've called Derik to come pick me up. While I'm waiting, I decide to see what relics lie in the vending machines, because I am friggin' starving, since I haven't eaten all day. I opt for the (normally) safe bologney and cheese sandwich ($1.50), a grape soda (75¢) and the mystery bone that I hit while scarfing down the dry thing labeled "sandwich" (priceless). Derik eventually shows up and then the real fun begins! The Magic Time Machine! Tune in Monday to read about it.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Upcoming Movies I Want to See

I don't go to the movies that often, unless there's something I REALLY can't wait to see. I prefer to go during the day, because all the kiddies with the cell phones, big mouths and awesome verbal skills, are in school. Well, school started back on the 16th of this month, so now I can resume my flick consumption. Here's a list of the ones I hope I get around to seeing before they leave the theaters.
Out of the 9, three of them haven't opened yet: Alfie (October 22), Mean Creek (August 20), Hero (August 27) and I Y Huckabees (October 1). You can watch all of the trailers for these films here. If anybody out there has seen any of these films, feel free to tell me what you thought about them in the comments area. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

FYI: Image Host Down

No, there is nothing wrong with your computer. My new image host is currently having some problems. But never fear! They tell me that it may take a while, but all my images will be returned unharmed. However, unsoiled undies are not guaranteed. My poor lil' images. :(

Just wanted to let anyone out there that happened to drop by today, know what's going on.

-Kirk :S

Bored of the Rings: The WatchTower

I remember growing up, hearing references and/or jokes about Jehovah Witnesses on The Tonight Show, TV shows, etc. They're a big part of pop culture, but until recently I'd never actually come in contact with one. Until now. Six times, to be exact, and counting. I assumed what the stereotyping and jokes were just exaggeration. It's not. They do really knock on your door. They do really talk to you forever. And they do annoy you with their spiritual sales pitch. It's all true! Who knew?

I do. Unfortunately. I know I sound like a raving asshole most of the time in my blogs, and on some level I am that person. But on the surface, I really do try to treat everyone, the way I'd like to be treated, until they give me a reason not to. Well, that's not totally true. I do tend to give good-looking people the cold shoulder. It's hard wired in my brain. It's been my experience they're never really as nice as they seem and don't have much of a work ethic, instead relying on their appearance to coast by on. But I digress. Like I was saying, I try to be nice to people. I soon learned that that was my first mistake when it comes to dealing with these nomadic martyrs known as Jehovah Witnesses.

My first beef with Jehovah Witnesses is their timing. Who the fuck wants to be woken up at 6:30AM on a fuckin' Saturday? Or any time for that matter. My "visits" have run the gamut from 6:30AM to 11:30AM. I make the mistake of answering the door sometimes, thinking it's a customer coming to pick something up or even someone I am expecting to visit. It never fails. It's gotten to the point lately where I dread hearing the doorbell ring. I think the saddest visit was on a Sunday morning, when some man in a powder blue suit (pretty) wearing a tie wide enough for me to use as a table runner, knocked on the door. I answered, and there he was with his wife and child. His kid was probably around 10 years old and looked bored as hell. I felt sorry for him. It's kinda sad when you realize that kids don't really get a choice in their upbringing when it comes to beliefs and/or religion. I guess that's why God created therapy. Speaking of, you gotta get a load of this article about cell phones and Jesus, courtesy of the Jehovah Witnesses: "Some youths use mobile phones to establish secret contact with those of the opposite sex." GASP! That's crazy talk!....whatever.

My point is, I've been way too accommodating. In hopes of not being rude, I've stood there in my doorway, propping the glass door ajar with my foot, letting "Jim" read to me from the Periodical-Of-The-Day. So wanting to scream "I can read Jim, let's wrap this up, mmkay?!" What really baffles me is that they spend their time and resources on various periodicals, pamphlets, brochures, etc., that I'm sure 99% of the people out there end up throwing in the trash (*see my small, but growing collection in the scan above). Couldn't that money be better utilized? Give the trees (and me) a break and put that money into a hospice or into the hands of someone who could use the help. Couldn't these "Witnesses" who seem to love to walk so much, use that energy in a more beneficial way? I don't get the whole thought process.

I've since learned some top-secret ways of making a clean getaway, which I will share with you today, because I like you. You've got spunk!

The "Closing Time" Move- This is when you've opened the door, they start talking, reading, quoting, prophetizing, etc. The door is already ajar. When you're ready for them to wrap it up, slowly start closing the door and looking behind you. They usually get the message, give you the paperwork and hit the trail.

The "Something's Burning" Strategy- Keep a kitchen time near the front door. Set it for 1 minute. When it goes off, tell them you've got something in the oven or on the stove and start to close the door.

The Yellowpages Strategy- Answer the door with your cordless phone in your hand. *If you don't have a cordless phone, just detach the receiver from its' cord and go to the door with that. Once you've I.D.'ed them as a Jehovah Witness, tell them you are on the phone long distance, take their paperwork, and get outta dodge!

And last, but not least:

The "eXtreme" Strategy- Answer the door wearing a bloody apron and holding a clump of hair (hair extensions are available cheap at most dollar stores). Rat the hair into a messy clump and pull out a fistful before answering the door. Answer the door breathing hard and wiping your brow. Some tomato sauce under your fingernails works wonders for "effect," too. This method will most likely rid of you of even the most fastidious Witness.

Now for this week's "WTF" moment. I recently went to a nearby 7-11 and bought a Slurpee and some candy that I can only find there (Reese's Big Cup). So I go up to the register and I'm behind 2 people in line. The first person is some woman and the clerk greets her and is chatty and friendly. Same with the second guy (some fat, bald, sweaty guy wearing a baseball cap). They exchange banter, laugh. Then I get up there. I say "Hi!" Nothing. I get "Is that gonna be it?" I'm like "Yep, that's gonna be it for today." Then he gives me my total and starts talking with some other Pakistani employee behind the counter. He drops my change into my hand and turns around to continue his conversation. The End. No "thank you." No nuthin'. What the fuck? The two complete strangers before me warrant witty repartee and a thank you, but I don't? Whatever.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

What I'm Listening to: Vol. II

Omnibus. Laut Sprecher. © 2001
01. Omnibus (Radio Version)
02. Omnibus (Remix Radio Version)
03. Omnibus (Extended Version)
04. Omnibus (Remix Extended Version)

Dance Trax Links:
- Discogs.com
- trancEaddict.com
- DanceRecords.com

Technology: The Force of Gravity. BT. © 2004
01. The Force of Gravity (BT's Edit)
02. The Force of Gravity (Tiesto Remix)
03. The Force of Gravity (Dylan Rhymes Push Up Mix)
04. Superfabulous (Scott Humphries Mix)
05. Superfabulous (Compufonic Mix)
06. The Great Escape (Attention Deficit Mix)

Push The Feeling On. Nightcrawlers. © 1993
01. Push The Feeling On (JCA Radio Edit #)
02. Push The Feeling On (Original 2 Step)
03. Push The Feeling On (Rosabel Club Mix)
04. Push The Feeling On (JCA Club Mix #)
05. Push The Feeling On (2 Step Club Mix)
06. Push The Feeling On (Sure As Hell Remix)
07. Push The Feeling On (Rosabel Dub)

Will I Ever Pt.1 [IMPORT]. Alice Deejay. © 2000
01. Will I Ever (Hitradio Mix)
02. Will I Ever (Hitradio Xl)
03. Back In My Life (Pronti & Kalmani Dub)
04. Video-Will I Ever

Even MORE Dance Trax Links:
- Farfield Records
- BestPrices.com
- israel-music.com
- Perfect Beat.com
- Big CD.com

Monday, August 16, 2004

Who's here, you're here, I'm here...

Last night I watched one of my favorite suspense thrillers on the Starz Mystery Channel: 1980's Cruising. The film stars Al Pacino and Paul Sorvino and was directed by William Friedkin, best known for his film The Exorcist. The movie is based on the book by Gerald Walker and is about a series of grisly murders taking place in New York's underground gay scene of leather bars and S&M. Pacino is assigned to go undercover, as a leatherman in the gay community, to find the killer.

I was only in 3rd grade when the movie was initially released, but from what I've read, it caused quite a stir amongst the gay community at the time. From what I can deduce, they were upset by both the way homosexuals/their "lifestyle" was portrayed in the film, as well as the fact that the killer was targeting homosexuals.
Initially, the way that gay characters were portrayed in films did irk me, simply because I knew I didn't fit that mold and neither did the majority of gay people I knew. But realistically, I realized that it's just easier for Hollywood and the majority of straight people to have something simple, in regard to minority stereotypes, that they can identify immediately upon sight. i.e. The flamboyant man with the lisp: gay, the thrifty, big-nosed character: Jew, the guy with tape on the bridge of his glasses and pocket protector: nerd, etc. Once I came to terms with the fact that that's how it works, I no longer found it offensive. In fact, some of my favorite movies are ones that more sensitive people may find and have found "offensive." For instance, something similar happened 12 years later, when Basic Instinct was released. Again, the gay community was upset. What? There are never supposed to be any killers/murderers who happen to be gay? I just don't get that worked up over movies. I mean, it is a work of fiction, meant to entertain us. Geez people, relax, and enjoy the film for what it is. I think the problem lies in the fact that some gay people are disillusioned enough to think that homosexuality is going to be accepted by the populous at some point in the future. Trust me, it's not, let's be realistic about it. For every person out there who is okay with it, there's some parent out there raising their kid to hate, just like Mommy & Daddy do. It's a vicious cycle. Some people just don't have the mental capacity to think outside their own existance of beliefs.
Back to Cruising. I own the VHS and wish the DVD would get a release, but I'm not holding my breath. I love the movie because I find it genuinely creepy, bleak and on some levels, realistic. It's one of those movies that kept me stressed out: You know, that feeling during a scene, when say, someone is rummaging through the killer's belongings while they are out and the person whom they belong to could return at any moment. THAT kind of stress. Aaaiigggh! That seriously stresses me out, but I love it. Heh. I dunno why. Adrenaline, I suppose.

In addition to the suspense, I also liked the music, the performances and the unintentional slices of humor. Though Cruising stars Al Pacino, I consider it a sort of cult/underground film, since most people aren't familiar with it or have seen it. I have some straight male friends who admit to liking the film. However, if it didn't have names attached to it, like William Friedkin, Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino or even Joe Spinell, I guarantee you they wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole (no pun intended). Most straight men probably keep repeating to themselves: The Godfather. Scarface. The Godfather. Scarface. Some male heroes can do no wrong in the machismo psyche. Just read some of the reviews on IMDB.com, if there's any doubt in your mind that the gay factor was a big "ick" factor for the majority of Cruising's audience. So much for progress.

One thing that drives me crazy about the film and has been argued through various articles, is how the film/characters are interpreted. I've read that 40 minutes of footage was left on the cutting room floor, so maybe some of my answers lie in those 40 minutes. Until a director's cut is released (if ever), we may never know. I also intend to track down the book at a nearby used bookstore and read it. Maybe it can give me more insight into the characters and their motives. *If you haven't seen the film and want to uphold the suspense, don't read any further right now. There are a few possible spoilers ahead. Okay, here's some things that leave me scratching my head:

• Near the beginning, after Pacino is given his assignment and is in bed with his wife, they are talking and at one point he says "There are lots of things about me you don't know." Then the camera lingers on his face and sinister music plays. What's THAT supposed to mean? Is he gay? Is he the killer? What?

• Was Joe Spinell's character really a cop? The transvestites he and his fellow police officer/partner solicit for sex, seem to think he is (i.e. the uniforms/patrol car), but the police chief at the precinct they get taken to claims that there are a lot of people out there lately passing themselves off as cops. Spinell was driving a cop car, in a cop's uniform, so I assume he is, but then he's in the leather bar later on, dressed in civilian/leather clothing, cruising Pacino. What's THAT about?

• And last, but not least, the ending has me asking even more questions. The guy who lives in the apt. next door, whom Pacino and the victim's boyfriend fought over him, the night before, is found murdered, after the "killer" is taken into custody. Who killed him? Was it Pacino or his jealous lover? At the end, why is Pacino all weirded-out, staring into the mirror after shaving? Did something inside him snap, while working on the case? Is he the killer?

*The title of this blog is a reference to the creepy little song the killer sings before he kills his victim.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Happy Birthday, Hitch!

It's Friday The 13th, and as you may or may not know, today is Alfred Hitchcock's birthday. Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors, and many of his movies grace my DVD collection.

If you have cable and get the Starz Mystery Channel, tonite they will be showing a Hitchcock double feature: The Lady Vanishes and To Catch A Thief, starring Cary Grant & Grace Kelly.

I've listed a few of my favorite Hitchcock movies below, so make this Friday night Hitchock Movie Night at your house! I have hyperlinked each title below, to a brief synopsis online:

Psycho (1960)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Vertigo (1958)
Rear Window (1954)
Murder! (1930)
The Birds (1963)
Rebecca (1940)

And for those of you who are not into the classic films, here are a few suggestions that pay homage to the Hitchcock style, but were made more recently, that you might want to check out:
High Anxiety (1978)- A hilarious film by Mel Brooks, co-starring some of my all-time favorites: Madeleine Kahn & Cloris Leachman. Why this movie has yet-to-be-released to DVD, is a mystery to me.
Dressed To Kill (1980)- Directed by one of my all-time favorite directors, Brian De Palma. De Palma is often referred to as the American Hitchcock.
Psycho (1998)- Though many hardcore fans of the original film shunned this shot-for-shot remake by Gus Van Sant, I thought it stood on it's own, with a fresh sense of style in both the sets and the wardrobe. Also, it stars my favorite hottie, Vince Vaughn.
Still of The Night (1982)- I recently stayed up late and watched this on television and was mesmerized by it's overall look. Great performances by Meryl Streep and one of my favorite actors, Roy Scheider.

Happy 105th, Alfred, wherever you are.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I Love MST3K

Yesterday I was in a MST3K mood, so I had a mini marathon of some of my favorite episodes: The Wild, Wild World of Bat Woman, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, Mitchell, and naturally, Pod People ("Good? He's the best!"). For those not familiar with the cult TV show, here's a quick synopsis, courtesy of DVD Empire: Mystery Science Theater 3000, America's only show that makes fun of really bad B movies from the comfort of a spaceship floating above Earth. Joel Hodgson, along with his mechanical companions, wisecracking Crow and well read chick magnet Tom Servo, make suffering through Hollywood's worst films a breeze. Adding their own dialogue, barrage of witty remarks, and an occasional colorful skit, the nest hour and a half will fly by like it were only 90 minutes. There are no ushers with flashlights, crying babies, or women with big hair to spoil the fun.

I remember first seeing this show, late one night, when I first moved away to college. I was initially attracted by the cheesy monster movie, then totally sucked in, once I saw that they were making fun of it by adding their own dialogue and/or comments. Completely hilarious. If you enjoy the 'B' horror and sci-fi movies of the 50's-80's, then you're sure to love the show. I remember watching it on Comedy Central back in the mid-late 90's, and often looked forward to their Thanksgiving Day marathon: Turkey Day Marathon. Eventually, the show was removed from Comedy Central and new episodes starting showing up on Sci-Fi Channel. I used to get up every Saturday morning at 8, just to watch it. And now, the show is no longer on the air (not that I'm aware of, anyway). Oh, how I miss it.

For those who may have missed it, during its' run on television, there are the DVDs: 10 individual episodes, 5 box sets (roughly 3-4 episodes per set + bonus Shorts*), 2 NEW box sets coming August and September 31st, and, of course, the holy grail of out-of-print-DVDs: Mystery Science Theater: The Movie, which I am proud to say is part of my collection. The movie was just a big-screen adaptation of the television show concept, featuring one of my sci-fi faves This Island Earth. Absolutely hilarious. A must see, even if you just rent it.

Sometimes, before the actual feature film begins, the cast will watch what is called a "short." The shorts usually consist of ephemeral films from the 50's, and on their own are hilariously outdated and humorous. But once Mike (or his predecessor/show creator, Joel) and the 'bots get a hold of it, it's laugh-outloud-funny. I have a lot of the shorts, in their entirety on CD-ROMS and/or other DVDs, aside from the ones shown on MST3K, since I am a lover of ephemera. Two of the favorite shorts, that have been shown on MST3K, have been Junior Rodeo Daredevils and The Home Economics Story. The scene that had me laughing so hard, I almost choked to death, was during The Home Economics Story and the short's narrator says something about Judy having a five pound potty (some 50's reference to Judy's new engagement ring) and Joel goes "Five pound potty? Somebody had a big breakfast!" I cracked up! OMG, it's still so damn funny to watch. Another favorite short was A Date With Your Family, where a model 50's family displays the behaviors that are to be avoided at the dinner table: The robots chime in: Sister asks herself, "I wonder if I should have washed my hands after handling that dead woodchuck?"

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